Let us give it to you straight: the Golden Era of snacking is upon us. For snackers world-wide, it has never been easier—nor more convenient—to taste the bounty of chips, cookies, crackers, and jerky.
But not too long ago, your options for acquiring exotic munchies beyond the local bodega were limited. You could book a plane ticket and pray customs wouldn’t find the treats tucked into your toiletry bag, or strategize the next time visit to an international market.
A new trend has emerged, however, within the industry that is rewriting the rules of snacking—the so-called subscription delivered “mixed bag.” How does it work? An arbitrary or curated mix of products is sent to you at a monthly clip, a selection that can be narrowed by a number of factors, or even hand-selected by yourself. It’s essentially a hybrid of a CSA and online dating.
In order to properly evaluate snacks of all types, a diverse panel of personalities and intestinal fortitudes was assembled. While our process is clandestine, know that only the most sophisticated palates and minds were selected to participate. Thus, the freshly-anointed #SnackFam presents to you a round-up of 30 delicious, surprising, and downright bizarre snacks from around the world. One takeaway? Be wary of Bulgarian treats.
Russ Bengston, Complex Sports Senior Editor (@russbengston).
Justin Bolois, First We Feast Features Editor (@justinbolois). His favorite snack is a jar of peanut butter.
Elena Feldman, Complex Content Operations Assistant (@feldtron). Would never want to be caught in a dark alley with a Bulgarian 7 Days snack of any kind.
Brendan Dunne, Sole Collector News Editor (@solecollector). Once ate a whole pizza in the bathroom.
Dan Resnick, First We Feast Snack Correspondent. Does not object to the nickname “Donut Dan.”
Sarah Honda, Complex Brand Manager (@sarah_honda). Just living for the next bag of pizzeria pretzel combos.
7 Days Max with Cream Brulee
B: Let’s just acknowledge how it contains cream brulee, not creme.
R: This looks like someone sat on a hot dog bun. I feel like you’d regretfully buy this at an airport. One thing is for sure—I’m definitely canceling my food vacation to Bulgaria.
E: It’s like airport sponge cake.
Calbee Shrimp Chips Baked
B: Do scrimps even taste like anything, anyway?
R: Shrimp chips taste like shrimp chips, not like shrimp.
E: It smells exactly like fish food.
B: This kind of smells like a tire.
R: This will definitely last forever.
D: Yeah, and it sort of tastes like sealant.
S: Gluten free, gluten free! I’m still chewing…
Japonés Nishiyama Peanuts
D: This would be a great bar snack. They have a crunchy, hard-shell coating.
J: I kind of like it…oh, the after taste…plaster.
Jedan je Eurocrem
B: Heavy is the snack that wears the crown.
R: The texture is so heavy—what would you spread this on successfully? A rock?
D: It’s a poor man’s Nutella.
Mincher Taiwan Strawberry Wafer
B: The strawberry advertisement is really a stretch.
R: You get the briefest hint of strawberry when you breathe in at the start, otherwise it’s like cardboard.
E: It’s such a tease!
J: *Breathes in heavily*
Hello Panda Biscuits Milk Cream
R: As a filling delivery system, these are very good.
J: Holy shit, the cookies are shaped exactly like pandas! Uncanny.
S: This is quality stuff. There are skateboarding pandas too!
Medovinka Honey Cake
R: Buglarian food is just not appealing.
E: The texture wants to make you cry at first, and then you learn to love it—much like my ex-boyfriend.
J: The bees on the package look like they’ve been drugged, but I fuck with this heavy. It reminds me of the honey cake you eat at Rosh Hashanah.
Wellmade Chewies Fruit Mix
B: I expected a fruit gusher, but they do taste good.
R: They’re good for drug smuggling purposes. It looks a little like a repository. Bulgaria’s got nothing on Turkey!
J: They need to work on the packaging; they look like lozenges for a sore throat you’d buy at Duane Reade.
B: There’s a custom in Korea where you give this to a person you have a crush on. The single people don’t get any.
R: Yo, that’s a cruel bit of marketing. This tastes like a really long combo.
D: They’re Pocky-esque, but with more girth.
J: I’m wanting a crunchier texture, but they’re hollow.
B: It’s similar to a Calpico.
R: Yeah, but it has a chalky aftertaste I could live without.
D: There are some citrusy lemon notes though.
J: It’s a yogurt flavor without the sour notes. Whoa.
Spicy Sriracha Peas
B: It’s like a wasabi pea, but it doesn’t fuck you up like one normally would. I would pay my hard-earned money for more of this.
R: Yeah, it’s sweeter and less hot.
D: To be honest, I think it tastes like chicken wings. *shrugs*
B: They’re almost like peeps, but they dissolve in your mouth differently.
R: Nah, it’s like a failed jelly bean.
E: You know when you’re little and you go to the dentist and he asks you what flavor fluoride you’d like? It tastes like the strawberry version.
B: Another Bulgarian banger?
R: Bamboo and black olives—doesn’t sound like they should be together. They should definitely stick to savory.
B: “Stick” [laughs]
E: It tastes like a mini breadstick. I’d eat these casually, invite people over for dinner and serve them. Bulgaria is bringing it y’all.
J: Each stick is covered with what seem like olive-juice zits. Bulgarian kids have it ok, IMHO.
7 Days Cake Bar Apricot
R: These lines look like they’re drawn on by an amateur. As far as taste—you could give me 100 guesses and apricot would not be one of them.
B: I have no idea what an apricot tastes like.
D: This is sickeningly sweet.
R: Spelled with “ph” so they don’t get sued by Disney, I presume. Oh, wait, there’s a Coca Cola bottle in there?
J: It’s like the weed shake of gummies—an assortment of scraps that gets the job done.
B: They definitely taste less like cheese than normal artificial cheese does. Which is concerning.
R: Turn the lights off and see if they glow.
D: They remind me of Herr’s Cheese puffs.
Ginbis Dream Animals
R: There’s one that says wild boar. It basically tastes like a Ritz. You’re at that midway cracker-cookie point.
E: It has a strawberry aftertaste. I’m into it, but I’d appreciate a “strawberry cream.”
D: There are 30 different animals. Talk about breadth.
S: Oh shit, there’s an owl!
Amira Tamarind Candy
B: It tastes spicy and creamy at the same time.
R: For your really adventurous grandparents.
D: It still has that tamarind earthiness.
J: Reminds me of a Werther’s.
Koala’s March Matcha Green Tea
R: Strong green tea flavor, and it’s spot on.
J: It’s an art form. Look at the detail in the stencil. The flavor is so strong that I couldn’t eat more than three.
R: Definitely has a corn and onion flavor.
E: It tastes like a spoonful of creamed corn.
D: This would be a great stocking stuffer. It looks like nerf gun artillery; even has a hole in the middle.
J: It’s essentially a Funyun log.
S: Funyon technology. Wow.
B: A little harder than your average gummy.
R: Well, they are teeth after all. The concept of chewing on something that looks like teeth is very disturbing, but it’s definitely better than those wax teeth candies. I do wish teeth had a hard chiclet-type coating to make it creepier.
D: It tastes better than what’s at the dentist’s office.
J: It’s a subtle strawberry, not that sweet.
Cheetos Jumbo Colmillos
R: These are spicier than habanero takis.
E: If you were to put these on a mango slice, it would be delightful.
S: It smells like intense barbecue.
R: It’s very much like Hostess, aspiring to be moist.
E: If you told me that was vanilla, I’d believe you.
D: I would still eat this over a Twinkie.
Coco Grape Drink
B: I like this more than a bubble tea. It’s less intrusive than tapioca pearls.
R: It’s got that fake grape juice Welch’s vibe. I don’t want anything out of a can where you have to chew things.
S: It’s jelly boba-style. It reminds me of aloe water.
Extra Crazy Bar
B: I would’ve settled for just ‘crazy.’ Who got paid to name this?
R: The inside looks like compost. But there’s a good balance of filling and coating.
D: It has a nice little coffee note.
J: It’s crumbly, and I like how it reminds me of Buncha Crunch.
B: It tastes like bullion.
R: Or stale Cheetos.
D: Where is the cheese flavor?!
J: Love the color coordination here, but there there’s no crunch. And if you’re a chip company, that’s a huge failure.
B: Feels like I’m south of the border right now.
E: These would be so good with nacho cheese. It’s hard to eat a Dorito because of triangle shape, but these are strips, which are good for dipping.
D: It does look like dog food packaging.
B: This is an anti-snack because it shouldn’t require this much effort. This is like an epoxy to my teeth. It has the cotton candy feel to it when it dissolves in your mouth. Almost granular.
R: It’s basically a fruit roll-up on a stick. It’s a super complicated idea of a lollipop.
E: It looks like an amoeba.
D: I feel like this would win in the U.S.
J: It gives you four steps for how to roll it. I don’t want to see instructions for how to eat a lollipop. Ever.
Kancho Choco Biscuit
E: It tastes like you’re eating a bowl of cocoa puffs.
D: Put them in a cereal bowl with milk and they’d be good.
S: Same brand as the Koalas; they have the ability to print better stencils, but they don’t. How disappointing.